Just one week after the IMB PRC reported a 40% increase in the number of kidnappings from within Gulf of Guinea waters in 2020, major shipping industry organizations warn that an upturn in piracy attacks in the Gulf of Guinea is likely now that the dry season approaches and sea conditions improve.
22 OCT 2020
Pirates are kidnapping more seafarers off West Africa, IMB reports
On 14 October 2020, the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) released figures showing a rise in piracy and armed robbery on the world’s seas in the first nine months of 2020, with a 40% increase in the number of kidnappings reported in the Gulf of Guinea, compared with the same period in 2019. Approximately 95% of the global kidnappings during the period occurred in the Gulf of Guinea, involving 80 crewmembers being kidnapped in 14 attacks off Nigeria, Benin, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Ghana. Pirates armed with guns and knives are abducting bigger groups of seafarers at further distances off the West African coast, says the IMB PRC, and further warns of pirate gangs in the area that are “well organized and targeting all vessel types over a wide range”.
Gulf of Guinea update
On 21 October 2020, BIMCO, ICS, INTERCARGO, INTERTANKO and OCIMF issued a joint statement advising vessels operating in the Gulf of Guinea to pay particular attention to maritime security risks in their voyage planning. “As the dry season approaches and sea conditions abate, an increase in attacks in the Gulf of Guinea has traditionally been seen”, the organizations warn in the joint statement.
In order to ensure the safety of all vessels and afford best protection to global trade, ship operators and masters must ensure vessels operate in compliance with flag state requirements and guidance as well as with the “Best Management Practices to Enhance Maritime Security for Vessels & Mariners Operating Off the Coast of West Africa including the Gulf of Guinea” (BMP WA). In addition, the following BMPs are emphasised in the joint statement:
The joint statement also warns that pirate gangs may attack vessels located in waters close to shore, such as in rivers, harbours and at loading stations and recommends gangway staff be briefed and instructed to keep a good look out for suspicious activity.
Members and clients with vessels trading to West Africa are advised to take note of the recent warnings and recommendations offered. Additional information and advice can also be found on Gard’s website “Piracy and armed robbery at sea”.